Red is motivated. Red is proactive. Red is power. Red is a nasty argument that you want to win. Red can’t hide its crimson. Blue is perfectionism. Blue is thoughtful. Blue cries during commercials and movies. Blue is all the emotions.

I’ve always had a somewhat split personality. I frequently veer between type-A and “I don’t give a shit”. Many years ago, my therapist suggested a book called “The Color Code”. The book contains various quizzes, drawn up on a points system, to determine what color represents you. Each of the four colors: red, white, yellow, and blue correspond with various emotions and personality traits. Upon taking the quizzes, it determined I was equal parts red and blue. Those two colors are so different from one another in the code that I thought, “That can’t be correct.” I took the various quizzes again and received the same results. While this book helped me make more sense of myself, being “purple” is still sometimes a terribly confusing experience. I’ve often described myself as being equally obsessive about things I love (blue) and things I hate (red). If I like you, I love you and would do virtually anything for you. If you cross me, I am unlikely to give you a second chance and will probably loathe you with every fiber of my being into the eternities.

I have this war inside my heart and head; and it’s deeply ingrained. When I look at my dad, I see all that is inherently red and all that is inherently blue. I know he gave these colors to me. This purple rose that is such a deep hue, it’s nearly black.

I’m trying to overcome the parts of each color that have weighed me down: The impatience, the annoyance, the unforgiving nature, the salty sting that creeps into the corners of my eyes when I am frustrated. But sometimes, the hardest thing to do is deny your genetics. Deny what is your material. Regardless, I have been trying more vigilantly the last few years to find an in-between. The attempt has, at times, been futile and I have had to start over more than once. My husband is the picture of calm and collected, even in high-pressure, stressful situations. He also has unparalleled levels of patience, even in the most frustrating scenarios. I am trying to emulate him in these regards, because those are character traits I admire greatly (white) and areas in which I have been lacking.

I don’t think I am as deeply red or blue as I used to be — but the changes have continually required me to re-think, re-draw, re-write. It’s been draft, after draft, after draft. But that’s the way it is when you are creating a thick biographical book, a masterpiece painting, or an album that is destined to be a classic. Toil, sweat, dark places, light places, and everything in between.

On my best days though, the scale finds a balance and I realize that purple, especially the deepest shade, is the most stunning color in the spectrum.


It’s been nearly two years since I left Mormonism behind. In some ways, two years seems like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not. In the Mormon perspective of “eternities” it is but a blip. I’ve wanted to write about my departure experience and share some thoughts for at least 12 months, but I have avoided it. Thinking about it now, all the energy I wasted “enduring”, is a pretty big downer for me, so that’s the main reason I haven’t revisited it. I’ve felt much lighter, happier, and unburdened these past couple of years. Writing about it takes me back to the internal struggle and the disappointment my family and some friends felt about my decision.

I have discovered several things over the last two years. When you leave a religion that is tightly knit and all-encompassing, like the L.D.S. church, the church people do not know how to react. The most common phrase said to me when I see church people now is, “We miss you.” To that, I would like to respond, “You still have my phone number. You still know where I live. If you miss me, perhaps you could reach out and we could go to lunch (a movie, an art exhibit, etc.).” If you sincerely felt like my friend at church, then why is that the only capacity in which we can be friends? This only-friends-if-you-are-exactly-like-me-and-go-to-my-church scenario baffles me. When I miss someone, I reach out often and stay in touch with them regardless of their religious affiliation. That seems like a pretty logical thing. I think what is meant by, “We miss you” in my scenarios is actually, “I don’t know what to say to you, so I’m going to say something that seems genuine (‘miss you’); but is really going to come off as the exact opposite.” In the Mormon church, the women’s organization is called Relief Society. The church is organized into geographical regions called wards. Each ward has a Relief Society President. When I made my departure, the president of my ward’s Relief Society was someone I had known well for more than a decade. I sent her a letter to let her know that I wouldn’t be attending church any longer. The reason I sent a letter was two-fold: 1. As a courtesy to several involved parties so that the information would be received at around the same time. 2. To explain things as succinctly as possible without any confrontation. This R.S. President texted me to let me know she had received the letter and asked if we could still be friends. I was completely bemused and it led me to question, “Hadn’t we been friends all along? Why would my decision to no longer attend church makes us not friends now?” My response was, “Of course we can still be friends. Heathens need friends too.” In that story, you find the name of my blog — the generation of which I promised to tell at some point. (*Consider that promise kept.)

Rumor has it that many church members think people who exit the religion do so because they have been offended by something another member said. These “offenders” are giving themselves way too much credit. Do church members truly think there is an offense so horrible and belittling and awful that the offended, on a whim, has turned their back on the religion they grew up with, the heritage they were taught, the day-to-day practices they’ve established? In some ways, it seems that the church people use others potentially “being offended” as a way to soothe their own minds. They don’t want to believe that the religion or the history of it could be flawed in any way. They would prefer to think that someone who has gone apostate was “easily offended.” I’ve talked to countless people who have left the L.D.S. church and not one of them has left as a result of something as simple as “being offended.” Are we not all offended at some point in time? I had people say things to me or my daughter that I did not like, but those occurrences have nothing to do with why I left the church.

I know why many Mormons I thought were friends have not asked to hear my story. They are warned against fraternizing with anything that isn’t praiseworthy towards their religion. It will always strike me as bizarre that people can throw me lines like, “I hope you’re happier now” and “please don’t spew vitriol about Mormons all over the Internet” (which I have not done) and “just move on”; but they don’t want to know how my painstaking decision was reached and many surely don’t want to see that I am much happier now. The L.D.S. church sends missionaries all over the world to preach what is their truth, but they don’t want to hear about what someone else perceives as truth, for fear it may shake their own faith in some way. They haven’t asked WHY I left the church or what led to my decision to withdraw; which was well thought out and sweated over for more than a decade. I did a tremendous amount of studying — I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 hours worth. I read church sanctioned scriptures, books that were published by church members, historians, and non-church members. I joined online communities for those with questions. I read blogs. I prayed. I pondered. I thought deeply. I considered. I cried. And then ultimately, when I couldn’t accept living what I felt was a double-standard any longer, I left. It was not easy. That is the other misnomer Mormons may have about those who leave. They think people just wake up one day and decide not to attend church anymore because they’d prefer to have Sunday fun-day or because they want to drink coffee guilt-free or because they don’t want to pay 10% of their income in tithing any longer. While all those things have been bonuses to my leaving, those are not the main reasons I stopped attending. Not. Even. Close. I would like to receive credit where credit is due. My decision was not made lightly. The Mormon religion teaches that there is a place for everyone in its religion and that it is the ONLY religion which will bring you true happiness. I must say, I never felt at home or truly happy within the church construct. Did I have pleasant experiences there? A handful of times. But I didn’t find it more spiritually uplifting than attending a great concert by a band I love or watching a movie I adore.

I’m grateful I had experiences socializing with non-Mormons in my day-to-day life for many, many years before making my departure (and I also have a supportive non-Mormon husband). That may sound strange to an outsider of the church. “Why wouldn’t she be socializing with a variety of people and have friends of all different kinds?” Mormons are taught that they are peculiar and that they need to stick together. Unless they are forced to deal with non-Mormons through sports teams, work scenarios, or school classrooms; they don’t. Most of the Mormons I know have social circles which are 98% Mormon. I cannot imagine how crippling it would have been for me had that been my case. Exiting would have taken much more strength and courage without a support system outside of church members. Beyond my studying and sincere praying, much of my leaving had to do with the huge place I have in my heart for my gay friends, my trans friends, my feminist friends, and my friends who are agnostic/humanists. I always felt those individuals were belittled, demeaned, vilified, second-classed and treated unfairly by the church in which I was raised. Being raised in the Mormon church caused a lot of internal confusion for me. I wanted to be Christ-like, in that Christ is kind and compassionate; but even more than that, I wanted to be the rebel Christ, which I feel is the Jesus they don’t touch on enough in Sunday School. I wanted to be like the Christ who overthrows money-changers’ tables in the temple and walks on the fringes of society with those who are less popular. That was the Christ I understood best, the one with whom I shared the most similarities.

Not being part of the church body any longer has led me closer to who I truly am spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I don’t waste my time seeking the approval of church people. Many of which I found to be more nice (sometimes fake), than kind. It’s the first time in my adult life that I have truly felt like an adult who is making my own decisions. I don’t do things now with the thought of an impending eternal reward or the thought of NOT receiving blessings if I don’t do something that was prescribed. I’m living how I’m living, because I know it’s right for me. My perspective of being Christ-like has changed to trying so much harder to walk in the shoes of another, to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and dignity regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual preference. (It’s not always easy, and I still slip; but then I remind myself that it’s alright. No one is perfect.) I also think any loving God would want me to be happy and to feel like I have a place in this world. He would want me to be comfortable in my skin and with my thoughts and the life I’m living. Over the last two years, I have learned a lot. One of the main things being that I am who I have always been, but I’ve become an even better version of my self. I am thankful for those who have supported me and have continued to be happy for me. Those who have not just said they miss me, but have shown they do by reaching out, appreciating my journey, and caring about me and my story. On to the next chapter.


I was born the year after America’s bicentennial celebration. I grew up in the 1980s, but came of age in the 1990s. I recall watching “Remote Control” on MTV and also the first time I ever saw Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. I distinctly remember the first tape I ever received as a gift (R.E.M.’s “Green”) and the first CD my Dad gave me (Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark“).

In 7th grade, my parents gifted me a small boombox for Christmas. I’m sure they had to sacrifice to buy it. They didn’t even have one in their own bedroom. With it, I got Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” on cassette. I frequently took the boombox into the bathroom so I could look in the mirror and attempt to mimic the choreography Janet did in the “Miss You Much” video. On the weekends, I would listen intently to Casey Kasem announce the Top 40, “Next on the countdown, up two spots this week….” with my finger over the record button so I could attempt to capture a song I had been wanting to listen to over and over again. If I was lucky, the DJ wouldn’t talk over the beginning or ending of the song, and the recording would be clean.

Once we were in high school, my friends and I would hop in Nancy’s Chevette (not to be confused with a Corvette) and insert Tracy Chapman’s self-titled album into the cassette deck. We would sing at full volume as we drove the back roads of Ogden. We didn’t usually have a particular destination. Driving and listening to music was the objective.

In my early college days, I toted my CaseLogic cassette organizer to my car each morning and selected something that would sustain me on my drive to the university. If I didn’t like a particular song, it wasn’t easy to skip over it. I would have to fast forward, and it simply wasn’t worth the hassle. I learned to appreciate entire albums, because the alternative was to rewind or fast forward, and trying to stop in the exact spot where the next song began or ended was virtually impossible. My tape deck had a removable face so that no one would steal my car stereo. I remember thinking how futuristic and expensive it was. One of the first CD players I ever owned was a Sony Discman. It made trekking through the campus on the snowy, windy days of winter much more bearable. I would hike daily from the humanities building to the science building or the library, fueled by Radiohead or Beastie Boys. I always double checked that the “stop skip” functionality was set so that I wouldn’t scratch the CD if it jostled around too much in my backpack.

Shortly after I moved to Nevada at the age of 22, Napster came into being. My teenage sister sat at the computer for hours downloading songs. I couldn’t comprehend it. “This is all free?” I remember asking. “Yah! Isn’t it cool?” was her reply. It wasn’t too long before Metallica ruined her ability to download a lot of “free” music.

In 2004, I had a friend who lived in Dallas. We worked together and he was based at our company’s headquarters. We always discussed music. We liked the same bands. We often made playlists for each other. We could discuss albums and concerts for hours. “Have you heard of an iPod?” he asked during one of my visits. “No. What is that?” From his pocket, he procured a device the thickness of a notepad and the size of light switch. “Take a look,” he said as he handed it to me. I didn’t even know what to do with it. On the sleek surface, there were just a few buttons. It was the simplest thing I had ever seen. He turned it on and showed me how to scroll through his albums and artists. I’m certain my jaw hit the floor. It was by far the most awesome thing I had ever seen. I saved up to buy one, purchased an external hard drive to store all the music, and spent hours loading my CDs to iTunes so I could sync it with my iPod. Around the same time, I discovered how easy it was to purchase and download songs from iTunes. I bought a transmitter that attached to the top of my iPod and it would (sometimes) let me play music in the car if I could find a frequency. My entire music library in my car! Before long, I had the next generation of the iPod, and then an iPhone, and then Bluetooth capabilities. Increasingly simple.

Late last year, we signed up for a music streaming service. Recently, when I learned the Violent Femmes had a new album out, I searched for it and was able to listen to it immediately. Being able to do that, have music at my fingertips so readily, is something I find amazing, strange, sad, and unbelievable.

When I was younger, I always stored concert tickets for each show in the CD cases applicable to the particular tour. Last week, I went through all my CDs and removed the ticket stubs. I’m planning on getting rid of my CD collection. I have a heavy heart about it. There was something magical about browsing the racks at a music store, purchasing a cassette or CD, removing the cellophane, tearing off the damn sticker (not always an easy task), pouring through the pages of the jacket cover, and intently listening. It allowed me to melt away to somewhere removed from myself. There was a distinct and wonderful smell that came with the packaging. It makes me sad to think that my daughter and her friends won’t recall that smell and the experience. They don’t have the privilege of HAVING to listen to an entire album of music, because it’s so easy to find “the popular song” and listen to nothing else. In many ways, it’s too easy. My daughter will never know what it’s like to make a mixtape for a crush or her best friend; or be aware of all the thought and time that goes into such an effort. I’m grateful to have access to millions of songs and artists, but continue to lament for the element of discovery and appreciation that has been lost. There is much at our disposal, and too much is easily disposed.

CD Collection


Uncle Ted smokes a cigarette.
It’s cherried,
until tufts of smoke
flare from his nostrils.
He rides a motorcycle on weekends.

My dad kneels, solemnly
near his mother’s grave.
He places lilies and baby’s breath
directly behind the headstone.
The Salem Cemetery is generally
slow on Sunday.

The veterans have their crosses lined up
neatly in perfect rows.
The stars and stripes wave freedom
and stink of death.
My Grandpa fought in World War II.

My mother sighs
as she gets in the stifling hot car.
I prop my swollen knee
on a fluffy pillow
and close my eyes.


Our art class was held in the dark basement room of the since demolished Central Middle School. I always looked forward to that 50-minute period as a reprieve from asquared + btothethirdpower = a cow jumped over the moon or running endless laps in the gymnasium. The art class was also a time where I broke away from most of the same-old-same-old students in my gifted core classes to spend time with other students in the school. It was in art class that I first met Nancy, who became one of my dearest friends.

Mr. Wood, our teacher, was a non-descript man. He was rather short with graying hair and his words seemed to slur together. He probably had a flask in his desk. No one could blame him, for being with a classroom full of teens day after day must wear on anyone. I don’t remember learning much from his jumble of words, but once he was done talking, we were released into the expansive outer room — lined with tables, workshop spaces, and cabinets. For being a space that was designated for art, it was poorly lit and would have struck any outsider as depressing. There were a couple bulletin board walls where we sometimes displayed our latest drawings, but other than that, the room was void of anything that would have indicated it was used for learning the finer things. This was not the type of classroom environment where students would hang their artwork and then offer critiques or constructive criticisms to one another. Everyone was left to their own devices and many kids skipped out after the roll had been called. I was too much of a goody-goody during my junior high years to ever contemplate skipping class.

Despite the general lack of instruction, I have completely unclouded memories of time spent in the art basement. Mr. Wood was big on lettering. One thing he did attempt to teach us was how to create block letters, which had a 3D-like characteristic. I always found the “S” to be a challenge and could never get it to look quite right. Penmanship had been my strong suit from a young age. I loved the way the calligraphy pens had to be angled just so, and when pressed, the ink would flow into a wavy “r” or a loopy “y”. Another designated project I recall was meant to be an optical illusion. The instruction was to draw a grid within a certain shape and then fill in every other space with dark pen or marker. If you stood a couple feet away from the piece, and let your eyes soften, the lines would begin to move or suck you into their depths.

At one point during my eighth grade year, we made jewelry. This was a pretty advanced effort, given how infrequently we received actual instruction in the class. There was a hot blue wax substance we used to craft rings, pendants, and other items. We had little drills that we would use to work the metal smooth once it had hardened. During a lunch hour, Nancy and our other friend Liz were in the art room messing around with jewelry and drills, likely unbeknownst to the teacher. Liz wasn’t paying attention and before she knew it, she had a little drill spun into her wavy black hair. Hearing Nancy breathlessly retelling the story in between gasps of laughter became a favorite thing, “And then, ‘zooooop’ the drill was caught in Liz’s hair!” I don’t recall exactly how the scenario ended, but I’m fairly sure it involved scissors for drill removal surgery. I cannot remember which of us first discovered that we could decorate our fingernails with wax drippings, but somehow, the three of us thought it was a genius idea. Once we each had a finished piece of jewelry for “grading” (a loosely used term in this class), we spent a significant amount of time heating wax, and dripping it onto our fingernails. Each little drop burned and stung, but we had to try and be quiet practicing our craft so we wouldn’t get caught. (I’m not sure what the consequence would have been, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been significant.) Once a ball of wax was resting on a fingernail, you had to hold in an “eeeeee” or an “ah-ah-ah” and then casually blow on it until it was dry. At one point, probably as a resort of our tears of stifled laughter post-wax application, Mr. Wood turned from the drill area, sauntered towards us, and asked, “What are you girls doing?” It was as if we became synced robots. All three of us had our hands under the table, quickly rubbed the then-dried wax off our nails, and casually brought our hands up to rest on the table as we chorused, “Nothing.” While we held in laughter, Mr. Wood gave us a look of skepticism, and walked back to his drill bits.

Toward the end of my eighth grade year, I brought in a 110mm camera my grandma had given me. It was a great source of amusement to us. In 1991 you rarely saw a camera at school. We took an entire roll of pictures, and despite the basement gloom, it was definitely one of the happiest times of my young teen life. A nagging pit of sadness creeps into my gut when I think that students no longer experience the slightly oblivious Mr. Wood and the dank of the art room basement.
Nancy, Liz & me Nancy, Liz & me

                                Central Middle School                           Mr. Wood & his pupils


One of the worst things to happen to me as a teenager was the two weeks of the swim unit in gym class. That statement makes me sound like a huge baby, like I didn’t have any “real problems” as a teen, which isn’t true. But read on, and you’ll gain a better understanding of my plight.

As a youth, I was athletic. I wasn’t a star athlete in any sport, but I was capable at pretty much every sport I tried. Not only that, but I was extremely competitive and was coach-able. I could easily run a mile in less than eight minutes. Bouncing a tennis ball on a racket 200 times in a row was a cinch. My dad taught me well how to throw a softball and I did NOT “throw like a girl.” When I was in middle school, nearly everyone played basketball in the gym during lunch hour. Shooting three-pointers was my favorite thing in the world, and I was better at it than almost anyone. During my sophomore year, I trained and traveled to play games with a Junior Olympic volleyball team. Nearly every sport felt natural to me. However; when it came to swimming, not only was I terrible at it, but I also had a fear of deep water.

Gym class was in the mornings, so you had to schlep from the main building over to the pool with your swim gear in tow, plus everything required to get ready for the day. Fortunately for me, I was not the type of girl who wore a lot of makeup or had to blow my hair dry. I’m pretty sure the girls who did were late to their next class every day that we had swimming. I grew up in a conservative environment. Even people of the same gender didn’t whip off their clothes in front of each other in the locker rooms. “We’re all girls here, so it doesn’t matter,” was not an oft uttered phrase. This made stripping naked and putting on a swim suit an especially tricky task. You either had to try and hold up a towel for a make-shift dressing room (awkward) while you changed or you had to wait for one of the four bathroom stalls to become available so you could change in private. Is there anything worse than the wet, hair strewn floors of a swimming pool locker room? Not much comes to mind. At this pool, the women’s locker room was at the front of the building and the men’s locker room was at the back opposite corner. Every day, no matter how quickly we tried to change, the boys would already be waiting in the pool as we left the locker room. I remember the creepy silence of teenage boys ogling us as we made our way to the practice pool. Some of them could have used tissues to wipe the drool from their mouths. It was like they had never seen 15-year-old girls in swimsuits in their short lives. I do not get embarrassed easily, but this may have been a time when I felt my cheeks turn red as those boys’ eyes bored holes into us.

Our gym teacher was a football coach first and foremost. Teaching wasn’t particularly his forte. He was more machine than man. If I would have known back then what ‘roid rage was, I would have used it to describe him. You never knew what was going to set him off. He had a curly, short mullet and whenever we were in the weight room and he would get upset, you’d see a purple vein in his forehead pulsate as if it were trying to break free from under the skin. There were several times when people witnessed him hurling chairs (ala Bobby Knight). Once in class when a kid wasn’t paying attention to the instruction being given, the coach hurled a basketball at his head — going the speed of approximately 90 miles-per-hour. That kid shut up quickly and probably still has brain damage to this day.

During our swim weeks, I’m fairly certain the coach’s intent was to see one of us drown. He never got in the pool with us, and instead attempted to teach us how to do the strokes from his perch above near the bleachers. I still remember him standing there looking like a flamingo as he attempted to extol upon us the proper way to scissor kick. After we’d semi-learned the strokes, we then had to swim some laps. None of us had goggles or swim caps, so my long hair was always plastered across my eyes and getting into my mouth and making me gag. I can’t remember which day of the week it was, because it all blurs together, but the coach gathered everyone in the four-foot deep section of the pool. This was to be our lesson in water safety, undertows and what-have-you. Total, there were probably 75 of us and he made us jog in a circle. He did this in order to simulate a whirlpool. If you were about to be sucked into the vortex and attempted to grab the wall on the side, he would smack your hand away with a pole. Had I known what was to come later, I would have prayed to have died in our simulated undertow that day. For the next section of the course was diving.

I’d never been taught proper diving technique. I wasn’t a swimmer after all, so where on earth would I have learned how to dive? Swimming pools in the area of town where I lived were few and far between. I’d taken swim lessons, but not since I was about 11. We were expected to individually perform a dive and the coach then gave us a grade. He’d made it perfectly clear that you needed to have proper form. If you went to the edge of the diving board and did a cannonball or just jumped in, you’d get an “F”. The thought of getting an “F” terrified me even more than the thought of performing a dive. Everyone in the class sat and watched as each person made their way to the end of the diving board and performed their fete. If I ever end up in Hell, that’s what it will feel like. It will feel like this particular day in gym class when I was a nervous 15-year-old girl in a swimsuit, being forced to dive with 75 pairs of eyes watching me, including perverted teenage boys. As I made my way to the edge of the board, I recall taking a deep breath in and forming a triangle over my head with my hands. I tried to jump, get my toes to point up over my head, but all I managed to do was a huge belly flop. As I surfaced, I heard the collective snickers of classmates. The coach’s face looked like he was smelling something terrible as he wrote my grade down on his clipboard.

At the end of this punishing two weeks, we had to tread water for 30 minutes. I’ve never been more nervous in my life than I was that day. Somehow though, it ended up being the best part of the entire class. I kept my head up for the first five minutes or so and chatted with my friends. After that, I tipped my head back and imagined a pillow, while my arms and legs continued their circular motions. It was quiet under the water. Peaceful even. When I surfaced again, the 30 minutes was over, and it was time to dry off and head to my next class, and I lived to tell the tale.


Social media is the bane of my existence these days. Along with two other high school class officers, I’m in the process of planning my 20-year reunion. Back in 2005 when we planned our 10-year reunion, social media wasn’t really on the scene yet. We had a couple conference calls with the three of us, decided on a venue, hired an on-site catering company and put together some name badges. A few people used PayPal to purchase their tickets, but most people sent checks (remember those?) via snail mail. We called a lot of last known phone numbers and emailed even more last known email addresses. We tried our best to use the website to track people down. We didn’t do too many surveys or ask for too many opinions. We didn’t have much of a forum for such things. We were in charge. We planned the event. Mainly word of mouth gave people knowledge of it. We held the reunion. People seemed happy with it. They moved on with their lives.

For having grown up in a red state, in a predominantly Mormon environment, I think of myself as a pretty open-minded, liberal person. I support gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose. But having to hear the opinions and (often) verbal diarrhea on Facebook of so many former classmates about each and every minute detail of what we have planned for this reunion has been exhausting. I sometimes want to ask people’s opinions, but then I want them to shut up rather spewing them at me or at the very least, give useful input rather than stating the obvious. I realize this is probably too much to ask. We’ve had some comments such as: “I wasn’t planning on coming to the reunion anyway, but here are all the negative things I’m going to tell you about what I don’t like about what you have planned….” You know what? Put a cork in it. Part of the issue may be that I don’t care a lot about what other people think, and some of these people I don’t know very well (and don’t want to) so I find it even more difficult to put their opinions into perspective, and to have a like-mindedness about their commentary. The other thing I wonder is why people care so much. I want to scream, “There are starving children in Africa (AND AMERICA) why do you care so much about whether or not your spouse is invited to the evening event?” People need to learn to focus their energies on things that actually have bearing. When we ask for helpful assistance such as photos for the slideshow, we have three people, out of our 270 classmates, respond. When we don’t ask for opinions or guidance, we get frequently negative, unsolicited spewings by the dozen.

That said, it’s a good thing I’m the only person on the planning committee who gets fired up about anything. I’m not offended by people’s words, disrespect, or ignorance of the planning process; it teeters far more toward…annoyance. I’m always trying to understand why people think the way they do and why so many people fail to be logical. I haven’t learned yet that I should give up, because it’s something I will never “get”. When my daughter is in school and has her various afterschool activities, I have time to watch a stupid TV show in the afternoon. My stupid TV show of choice is “Dr. Phil”. (Try not to judge.) I watch the show with the primary purpose of trying to figure out these people who come on as guests with their wide arrays of issues. (Side note: How does anyone fall for “catfish” scams? It’s unbelievable!) Most people would say they watch those types of programs to feel better about their non-screwed-up lives. That is not why I watch. I watch because I genuinely want to understand people’s behavior. I’ve known my ex-husband for nearly 20 years, and I’m still baffled by nearly everything he says, does, doesn’t do and says he’s going to do. I keep saying I’m going to stop trying to understand, but I don’t think that’s a quest that will ever cease.

The other two class officers involved in our planning talk me off a ledge at least once a week. I’ve threatened several times to fly or drive up to Utah and throat punch some individuals. It’s an action I still may follow through on. I’ve already established that I don’t plan to plan the next reunion. By then, I’ll be almost 50 years old. If I’m unable to tolerate the annoyance of Facebook and I don’t have patience presently for random opinions/rantings, imagine how much of a curmudgeon I’ll be in ten more years. Ultimately, I suppose I’m still trying to figure myself out too. Why did I put myself through this process? There are some people I’m interested in catching up with, but a great majority of people I wouldn’t give two shits if I never saw them again. Perhaps morbid curiosity about how people “turned out” has something to do with it. There are a couple of things I’ve learned: 1. I’ll be quite glad when it’s over. 2. I’m taking an extended hiatus from social media when it is.


As a child, I was jealous of kids who were left-handed. They seemed like such an anomaly. They had special scissors to use in the classroom and exceptions were often made for their seating arrangements. I had a couple teachers who talked about how the left-handed kids were more creative, more inclined to be good at the arts, because they used the right side of their brains when performing so many daily tasks.

I never wanted attention called to myself when I was younger; especially negative attention, but I did want to be an artist. I felt that if I were left-handed, I would have a greater chance.

Around the same time, my Granny, with whom I spent quite a large amount of time, broke a bone in her right arm. She ended up having to sign checks and write appointments on her calendar with her left hand for the next several weeks. By the time she was able to use her right hand again, she was already quite adept at using her left hand. I’m not going to say I wished for a broken wrist, but I won’t say I didn’t.

During high school, one of our art teacher’s favorite assignments was to announce that during this class period, we should hold the pencil or charcoal in our non-dominant hand in order to craft a drawing. My pieces always ended up looking like something a four-year-old had hastily sketched.

Despite my current rather portly build, I was lean and muscular for the first 18 years of my life. I loved to play tennis, basketball, volleyball, and softball. One day while I was watching a baseball game with my dad, he mentioned that many famous pitchers were left-handed, and that several prominent baseball players could switch hit, meaning they could bat equally well from the right side or left side of the plate. My envy for those born as southpaws continued to grow when my dad and I were watching a PGA tournament. One of my dad’s only hobbies at the time was golfing. I’m quite certain that had we been in a better financial position during that era, he probably would have been a member of a club where he could golf daily. I noticed that an unusually high number of professional golfers were also left handed, and my heart sank, as I realized that I would probably never be amazing at my dad’s favorite sport.

In the last decade, I’ve met several right-handed people who are excellent artists, and I’ve watched many right-handed golfers win the PGA tournament. My husband recently purchased a set of golf clubs for me. We will see how I fair, given my right-handed proclivity (handicap). Perhaps I can turn southpaw dreams into right-handed reality.


My dad does not tolerate any bullshit. You are not allowed to have a “woe is me” attitude about anything around him. Given all that he’s been through, my dad is one of the strongest people I know. He has quirks and hefty opinions that I may not always agree with, and he watches Fox News (which I definitely don’t agree with); but given his upbringing and the deep-seeded sadness of his youth, he’s someone I admire for becoming upstanding through his pain. One thing that angers my father is when people blame their crappy childhood for their current circumstances. Saying you were raised in such-and-such an environment and that’s why you were driven to drink, do drugs, commit a crime, have a teen pregnancy, etc. doesn’t fly with my dad. His entire life is a testament to rising above difficult circumstances. He married my mom in the 70s, successfully completed his bachelor’s degree in the 80s, found a career in the mortgage loan business, raised three daughters, and is nearing retirement.

I spent the first nine years of my life in a trailer park in Orem, Utah. These were lean years for my family; but as a child, I never knew that. I give huge credit to my parents for being poor, but not letting my sisters and I know we were of little means. My dad was the one who got us ready for school in the mornings, because my mom was working full-time while my dad was going to school. He must have been completely exhausted as he crafted ponytails and made sure we had signed permission slips, before he left for his classes. He was busy earning his bachelor’s degree, and in the years prior to going back to school, he spent late nights at the Geneva Steel plant. The job required him to wear thick gloves and clothing so he wouldn’t be burned. When he returned home and showered, he would continue to sweat profusely through the night because of the heat trapped in his body from the work he was doing. I never heard him complain.

In the center of the trailer park, there was an indoor swimming pool, rows of mailboxes, and a playground. If you think this was a resort-like atmosphere, you would be incorrect. The first curse words I learned were written on the wooden clubhouse at the top of the slide. During the summers, we would sometimes spend a Saturday at the pool. When I was about four years old, I had two great fears: dented vehicles/flat tires (I know, weird) and the deep end of the pool. During one of our pool trips, my dad kept telling me over and over again, “If you jump off the diving board, I will catch you.” I was terrified, but with this generous coaxing, I ended up on the edge of the diving board. “Jump! I’ll catch you,” my dad’s voice echoed off the pool walls. The water was shimmering that day, reflecting off the sundrenched glass of the facility walls. With wobbly knees and all eyes on me, I stood perched at the end of the diving board with tears trailing down my cheeks. I was terrified. My dad was unphased and continued to beckon me, “Jump!” through gritted teeth. I probably stood on the diving board for ten minutes before I finally dared jump into my dad’s waiting arms. He was never a fan of displays of weakness. He would have waited all afternoon for me to jump.

I received my first bike as a present for my sixth birthday. It was a red and white Huffy which I loved more than any gift I’d ever received. We were not allowed to have training wheels on our bikes. My dad would trail me holding the seat for half a block, and then he would let go once balance had been achieved. I learned to ride quickly, because skinned knees and elbows on asphalt are not something you want to repeat. When I was nine years old and wanted to upgrade to a larger bike, I was required to save half the money for the purchase myself.

One of my favorite places to observe my dad in my teenage years and early 20s was at church. Mormon church meetings last three hours. You spend the first hour with the entire congregation in what is called sacrament meeting. A lot of talking happens during this meeting, and the cushions on the pews provides little relief for worn-out rear ends. The second hour, children go to their own meetings, while anyone over the age of 18 goes to a scripture-study-like class. The third hour, you break off even further with men going to their own private meeting, while women go to theirs. If someone was at the pulpit in any of the aforementioned meetings droning on and on, dad would put his head in his hands, his face would be flushed with annoyance, as he would not so gently pull at his hair. My dad has always had thick, blonde hair. It’s going white now, but he still has plenty of it to grasp when he becomes frustrated with any given situation. I’m like him in this way. If someone isn’t making a point, I find my jaw tensing and the need to tear my hair out. When my sisters and I were younger, my mom would never let us play beauty parlor with her hair, but my dad was always a willing participant. He would sit on the floor with the TV tuned to a tennis match or basketball game and let us brush it, put barrettes in, and try and try to get it to part anywhere other than on the right. (It never would.)

One of the reasons I was such a diligent student was I did not want a talking-to from my dad about grades. Thankfully, the only subject I ever needed help with was math. My dad could figure out virtually any math problem, and would sometimes spend two hours a night with me, pouring over work from Algebra and Geometry. He would lean forward in the chair, poised over the equation with deep-seeded creases in his forehead as he explained it, and the lines would grow even deeper if I didn’t understand the problem as explained to me. I would not have as much discipline as I do without my dad. My work ethic is second-to-none, because tardiness and sloppiness were not tolerated in our house. I’ve never known my dad to be late or unprepared for anything.

One thing I’ve also never known my dad to do is speak ill of other people or engage in any gossip. When I was going through my divorce in 2000, I moved to Nevada to live with my parents. I hadn’t lived at home for five years, so it was a major transition for everyone. I was extremely bitter about a lot of things in my life. My mom and I would often rant over my ex-husband’s behavior or something my ex-mother-in-law had done or said. My dad would not have it. He wanted us to put everything aside, rise above the issue, and move on with our lives.

The best way to be close to my dad is through a knowledge of sports. At a young age, my dad taught me how to score a tennis match, how to throw a softball, and who the best players were in the NBA. I distinctly recall lying on my stomach in the living room watching tennis matches between Andre Agassi and Michael Chang. I was also riveted to the TV during Michael Jordan’s best years — cheering for the Utah Jazz alongside my dad — but always knowing the Bulls would pull off another championship. When my parents first got married, my mom was in bed one night, and woke up to what she thought was my dad having a heated conversation with someone else. She eased her way to the living room, wondering who my dad could be arguing with so late at night, to find that he was debating with the TV over a referee’s call during a game. As a result of my athleticism, my sports knowledge, and my style of dress in elementary school, I was rather a tom-boy. A few weeks into my 5th grade year, I went to school wearing navy blue Converse low-top sneakers. The kid sitting behind me in class, whom I already despised leaned forward and whispered tersely, “Why are you wearing BOYS shoes?” First off, these shoes were completely unisex and could have been for girls or boys. Secondly, my dad had picked them out, so I didn’t need validation from anyone else in regard to whether or not I liked them.

My dad has softened a bit over the years. He doesn’t get riled nearly as easily. He thinks the NBA is now comprised of overpaid narcissists; so he doesn’t watch the games as frequently. His frame is extremely slender, and I worry about whether or not he’s eating enough, and if he’s going to the doctor for annual physicals. Every now and again, we hear him muttering about something he’s displeased with under his breath, and it reminds me of the times during my childhood. He and my mom have an empty nest, and the highlight of their week is dinner together on Saturday night, followed by the weekly grocery shopping. People who don’t know my dad well, but have heard him speak or make comments will tell me, “Your dad has the best sense of humor.” That is definitely true, but if you ever complain around him or try and pull the self-pity card, he still doesn’t tolerate any bullshit.

Dad at my sister's wedding a decade ago
Dad at my sister’s wedding a decade ago


As you’ve previously read, I attended my first concert at the age of 13. I was privileged to see the five boys from Beantown: New Kids on the Block, at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. There has never been a more wholesome concert or venue. The next several years of my life were dry of concert-going, but the summer I turned 17, I gifted tickets to my boyfriend for a festival called Livestock, which was held each year in Salt Lake City. That summer was one of the more difficult times in my teenage life. The aforementioned boyfriend, who was a couple years older than me, was going away to college. In my formative years, I was extremely co-dependent. That transitional July, I barely knew what I liked anymore (vegetarian pizza? RUSH? backyard hammocks?); because we dated throughout my junior year of high school and spent every waking moment together. He hadn’t formally broken-up with me yet, but the demise of the relationship was eminent. He decided he didn’t want to attend the festival, so after a failed attempt to sell the tickets, I took a friend instead. I was completely unprepared for the experience. Coolers were not allowed. I didn’t bring any water, or a method to shade myself. I didn’t bring any extra money, and even if I had, it wouldn’t have been enough. Water and food were airport-expensive. My friend ended up purchasing a frozen lemonade for me so that I wouldn’t pass out. (Thanks, Liza!) The bands who played were classic-rock types like Bachman Turner Overdrive and Foreigner. Mind you, this was the 1990s, not the 1970s, so these bands were washed up by the time I heard them sing about “takin’ care of business” and how their ladies were “cold as ice”. This was my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend’s music, not mine. At this miserable affair underneath an unforgiving sun, we sat on what used to be grass — but after years of foot traffic, was now dusty, air-sucking powder. I watched a child of approximately 10 years of age roll his own joint just a blanket away from us, and saw half-naked people coming away from the front of the stage battered and drenched in stank. Between the broken heart, the dehydration, and the gross music; this experience almost ruined my concert-going desires.

However, during my senior year in high school, I loved many bands too much to turn my back on live performances. In the mid-90s, you often had to cut school to obtain a wrist band at Smith’s Grocery Store. The lower the number on the wrist band, the greater your likelihood of receiving the best tickets for the show. I gave several freshmen rides to the grocery store during those school days so we could get our wristbands. Smith’s distributed their golden tickets through an outlet called Smith TIX. On the morning the tickets actually went on sale, you went back to the store to stand in a numerically ordered line, with the coveted number one wrist-band wearer gloating at the front.

During 1995-1996, I went to at least one concert every couple months. I sang along with Michael Stipe’s gravelly voice while he was losing his religion and telling us about the end of the world as we know it (he felt fine about it). I was never a Dead Head or even a huge fan of their music, but in the spring of 1995, I had the opportunity to see the Grateful Dead play at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. The hippie/commune vibe before the concert was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and completely unlike all things Utah. There was a bearded man handing out pamphlets, and wearing a “Behind the Zion Curtain” t-shirt with a picture of the Angel Moroni (Moroni is an ancient Mormon prophet) emblazoned across the front, which was quite revolutionary to my Mormon-raised, 17-year-old mind. There were decorated vans and buses, and out of the backs of these vehicles, people sold grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade jewelry, t-shirts, and brownies. (I didn’t buy any baked goods, because I’m a germaphobe. I never for one moment thought, “Those definitely have pot in them.”) Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia were stage left and stage right. Listening to the Grateful Dead play was akin to attending the world’s largest jam session. Their music was mellow and unfettered. A few months later, Jerry Garcia died, which cemented in my mind that rock stars are more fallible than any of us.

My college years brought a whole slew of new music experiences. I received my four-year education at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. We often drove to Salt Lake for entertainment, and the first show I attended with my friends and roommates together was Oingo Boingo’s last tour. Danny Elfman’s voice is one of the most distinct sounds, the song writing is genius, and the horn arrangements aren’t annoying (as they are in Chicago’s arrangements), rather they carry a song. Boingo played for more than three hours, and did a couple encores, ending with “Goodbye, Goodbye”.

I first saw a 311 concert at the magnificent Saltair in the fall of 1995. Saltair is about a 20-minute drive west of Salt Lake City. It backs onto the shores of the lake itself in Magna, Utah. There is nothing within miles of the venue, just sea-like scent, the marina, and the pits at Kennecott. The building’s exterior looks like a Russian palace and the interior is open to a grand staircase with ratty carpet. All the shows were general admission, so if you liked looking down at the band from the balcony, you wanted to get there early to secure that space. I preferred to nestle in the back of the room, on the outskirts. During this era, 311 was touring to support their third record label studio album, which fans know as the blue album. Today, they have 13 studio albums, many which have gone gold or platinum. The enthusiasm was undeniable as my friends Rebecca, Aethea and I made our way to the venue, parked a mile away, and then bounced along as the beginning chords of “Welcome” hit our ears. My best friend Aethea is about five-foot six-inches tall, and if she had just eaten a meal, she weighed all of 110 pounds. Regardless of her stature, you could not dissuade her from the mosh pit. The mosh pit is where the straight-edgers went to prove they were tougher than the jocks. Most people in the mosh pit were males. They shoved, stomped and threw elbows; and some were three times Aethea’s size.

At this same venue, we saw a Primus concert. Aethea went into the pit at the beginning of the show, and I didn’t see her until the show ended. Her hair looked like she’d stuck her finger in a light socket, she was missing one Converse shoe and despite her twisted ankle, she had more energy than a child on Christmas morning. She was never deterred. She was the whirling dervish of the pit.

Trips to Salt Lake City were incomplete without a trip to The Pie Pizzeria. If you didn’t know where The Pie was, you wouldn’t be able to find it. (This was pre-GPS and everyone owning a smart phone.) Once you arrived at the back parking lot, you took a staircase down to the red-haze. There weren’t many tables and the walls were covered with writings of previous patrons: J+H / Rock On! / Jenny 867-5309eeeen. Truly a hole-in-the-wall establishment, or in this case, a hole in the ground. We usually ate before the concert, resulting in the entire car smelling like leftover garlicky Pull-A-Parts on the ride back to Ogden. Pull-A-Parts are the best, smelliest breadstick-like creations known to humankind. My dad cursed if I left them in the fridge at home, because the aroma took over the entire kitchen.

I could write for days about this topic: About seeing Jamie Cullum at the House of Blues, Jack Johnson at Usana Amphitheater, and Death Cab for Cutie at the Pool at The Cosmopolitan. But no experience is clearer or more significant to me than the Beastie Boys concert at The Joint at Hard Rock Las Vegas in 2006. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time, and my closest friends and concert companions lived out of state. I was the single mother of a first grader about to enter my third decade of life, but when the email hit my inbox from their fan club about a show taking place at The Joint in less than a week, I knew I had to go, even if I went alone — which is what I ended up doing. My favorite spot to stand at the old Joint venue was against the railing just a couple steps up from the main floor. At the time, The Joint felt quite intimate. There were three staggered levels. As you entered, the bar sat to your left at the back of the venue, and then opened to standing room beneath a low ceiling, two steps down, more standing room, two steps down, and the floor extends up to the stage. (They expanded and renovated several years ago, so it’s much larger today.) The instant the three guys from New York took the stage, their energy was infectious. They spit rhymes, wore their signature jumpsuits, and donned and removed sunglasses. When “Egg Man” was being delivered, a woman standing on the floor below me who was out-of-her-mind high or drunk was trying to “sing” along and was completely unable. Her gnarled face and dizzied expression reflected that not only did she not realize where she was, but she had probably never heard of the Beastie Boys. That’s something I still think about. To me, it was akin to being in the presence of greatness, experiencing something so magnificent, and having no clue. As the show was about to close, guitars were brought out for Ad-Rock and MCA, and Mike D took his place behind the drum kit. I was almost in tears. As they strummed “Gratitude” and I belted it out with them, life was perfect. Just a few years later, Adam Yauch (MCA) was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland. After recording a couple additional albums with the Beastie Boys, he passed away at the age of 47. An acute loss to music, and something I felt personally.

Concerts have always been about a deep connection between the artists, the music, and the listener. When I’m hearing live music, and taking in the positivity delivered by the artist, memories overwhelm me of times I heard the song previously: Driving to the high school, cruising the back roads of Ogden with my best friends, making our annual summer pilgrimage to Bear Lake, or crowding in my bedroom at my apartment. The lyrics of my three favorite MCs sum this up: “What’s gonna set you free? Look inside and you’ll see/When you’ve got so much to say/it’s called gratitude, and that’s right.”
Beastie Boys Ticket